SMB Series: The biggest SME challenges of 2019

By Tom Hyde, Head of SMB, Docusign APAC

Technology, talent, finances and growth. These are some of the top issues faced by small to medium businesses in 2019, according to the latest research from SmartCompany.

In SmartCompany’s annual survey, produced in partnership with Docusign and now available in the eBook, The biggest SME challenges of 2019, small business leaders from around Australia voice their concerns about:

  • Keeping up with digital transformation
  • Finding and keeping talent
  • Balancing the cheque book
  • Growing in the face of increased competition

These are all completely valid concerns. Things like AI and rising fuel costs understandably make business leaders nervous; as do the ongoing pressures of staff retention and customer acquisition.

So what can they do about it? How can SMBs take control in an increasingly uncertain operating environment? Here, we speak to Docusign’s Head of SMB, Tom Hyde about some of the big issues facing the sector and how SMBs can confidently prepare for the future.

How can small business owners stay one step ahead of digital disruption?

The answer here is that you don’t necessarily have to. Jumping on every technology that comes along – just to keep up with the Joneses – can get your systems into a real patchwork mess that may not deliver the outcomes you want.

It’s normal for small businesses to feel apprehensive towards the constant and rapid changes in technology. They worry about how to keep up with it all while remaining competitive. Instead of getting overwhelmed about what you’re not doing, you could shift the focus away from all this new technology and back onto the business.

Look at your medium-term business plan and think about where you want the business to be in the next 5-10 years. With a plan in place, you can then look at the technology available to make it happen.

For example, if a goal is to unlock more time in order to grow the business, then think about how you can achieve efficiencies by streamlining certain processes with the help of technology.

If you are looking at multiple technologies, think about the way that they will work together and how they will impact your processes overall. Look for solutions that will integrate seamlessly, make work easier and more productive, and improve the customer experience.

What can small business owners do to minimise the likelihood of contractual disputes and unpaid invoices?

With a digital and integrated process in place for preparing, signing, acting on and managing contracts,  you will always have a clear audit trail. Contracts are easily retrievable; and there’s a clear record of the terms, who has signed off on them and at what point in time. All this information is gold when you are handling contractual disputes.

Getting paid on time – which is pretty important to keep those business wheels in motion – is another big issue for small business. The 2018 SmartCompany Reader Survey found almost half (43%) of small businesses experience delays in receiving payments more than 25% of the time.

Technologies such as Docusign Payments eliminate this problem by integrating payment at the time of signing. This not only saves time chasing payments, it also improves cash flow because payments can be collected sooner.

How can small businesses optimise their recruitment processes to cut costs and improve efficiency?

According to the SmartCompany survey, finding and keeping talent is one of the key issues faced by SMBs in 2019. From those crucial first moments in the recruitment and onboarding process, you need to ensure that the experience is a positive one for new employees. The good news? You can both improve their experience and your bottom line results.

By applying an eSignature solution to your employment contracts, you can reduce contract processing times from three weeks to one day in 95% of cases. You can also get offers out to candidates faster – a crucial advantage when a talent war is waging around you.

Then there’s the first impression you make. Prospective employees don’t look too favourably on cumbersome paper-based forms and contracts that involve a tedious back-and-forth process. Don’t put them off the job before they’ve even started.

With those employment contracts signed much faster, your new employees become productive members of your team earlier. You’ve got more time to spend on developing their skills so that they can contribute in meaningful ways to the business.

Want to know more?

Read all the results in the SmartCompany eBook: The biggest SME challenges of 2019 or register for the on-demand webinar to learn how NowInfinity has completely transformed their business workflow, removing paper and friction for their clients as well as saving time and costs.

asian woman smiling

Tom Hyde
Related Topics